Whom did I meet in Greece? Well, Jane Matthews for one. I’ve been tweeting with Jane for several years and loved her book Have the Best Year of your Life (O Books). So the opportunity of doing one of her courses was too tempting to pass by.
Jane’s book is all about encouraging you to try different things, every day of the year. Some are fun, some are comforting, some are nourishing and nurturing and some aim to push you outside your comfort zone. I like that she’s not prescriptive – it’s very much do what you can, do what you fancy, try things out. Then again, she warns that, if something really pushes your buttons, if there’s something you really really don’t want to do – well, hey, that’s probably exactly the thing you need to do the most.
So, in lovely Nikiana, just three of us met, very informally, and talked and meditated together. Jane was as delightful as I'd imagined - warm, kind, supportive, generous in mind, heart and spirit.
She suggested some simple exercises – often just asking a few questions that, yes, pushed the buttons. She asked us what we felt deprived of, what we yearned for. ‘If you suddenly had a free day and no limits of any kind what would you do with it?’ Oh.
One day Jane showed us a little canvas she’d painted – all bright and positive and sparkly. I suddenly thought how nice it would be to do something similar for James. He had asked for a Greek god but they were thin on the ground (seriously guys, you’re missing a marketing opportunity here) so I thought I’d paint him a picture instead. To show my love for him. Something pure and joyful.
It all started off so well…I sat on my terrace and painted the canvas a cheery clear yellow. Then added a bright orange and red heart. I figured I’d simply put LOVE in big letters across the whole thing. Keep it simple. But my mind strayed…away from the pure simple love of a mother for her child...and my fingers followed suit. The colours darkened; I gave up on the brush and let my fingers smear paint while a fingernail tore spirals…
Oh hell. And I moved back to the edge of the sea, to that inbetween place, twixt sea and shore and watched the waves again. And then I gave up on paint and turned to words…which tumbled out like this...
Love isn’t simple and neat.
It’s not a pure red heart with sharp clean edges.
It gets messy.
It changes shape, the colours merge.
You uncover things, you discover things…
about yourself, about the other.
It isn’t always hearts and flowers. It’s thunderstorms and ice.
It’s turbulent seas, waves lashing the beach…trying to hurt the stones.
How can you hurt a stone?
But slowly, slowly, the sea dissolves …and the stone gives in…
Becomes smaller, less stone…until finally, sand, it is swept up by the sea.
Is it an equal partnership, this wearing away? This dissolving, this giving in to a relentless battering?
How would it be to be two waves instead?
Dancing. Separating. Coming back together.
Never ever truly apart…just differentiating from time to time…
Before joining again.